Resident Evil: Genesis
by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Resident Evil: Genesis / 9780743492911
I adore the Resident Evil film series, and I'm a sucker for a good film novelization, so unsurprisingly this book was right up my alley. This is a straight-up "book of the film" translation, with everything captured precisely as it was on-screen, but with deeper characterization, back-story, motivation, and internal emotional snap-shots. As I consider that to be basically the gold standard for film novelizations, I can strongly recommend this book to fans of the film.
The only thing that didn't resonate perfectly with me is that this is a film series that really focuses on its female protagonists to a wonderful degree; I can't think of another film series (let alone an action series) that has such a wide cast of women, and from so many backgrounds and dispositions. This installment alone has three major female POV protagonists, as well as a couple quick chapters from minor female POV characters. So it's a bit unsettling at times to read from the POV of all these women and yet have certain things feel a little ... off, I presume because of the male author. DeCandido seems to be a very competent writer based on what we see here in this novel, but there is some clunkyness around the beginning, as though the book has big "This Is The Flirting Section" and "This Is The Sexual Harassment Section" signs all over it.
An example that comes to mind is the chapter in which Alice meets Spence for the first time. Alice is established as stunningly beautiful in a male-dominated career where she's experienced her fair share of sexual harassment and unfair glass ceilings. We understand intuitively from this background that Alice is presumably very used to being hit on by the men in her workplace. So when Spence -- a man who has been assigned to live alone with her in an isolated mansion for three solid months -- immediately makes three pointed suggestions about her body, it's a little strange to see Alice treat what has been established as a normal thing in her life (co-worker getting handsy with his eyes) as something deeply complimentary and worthy of flirty reciprocation with little "oh, YOU" rejoinders and shooting Obviously Fake Glares at him before leaping into bed with him. I would assume this is meant to establish Alice as sex-positive, but it just doesn't seem to fit well against her otherwise very cautious and careful demeanor and background.
Little speed-bumps like the above are littered sparsely across the first half, but once the T-virus hits the fan, it's a race to the finish and everything falls into perfect place, writing-wise. I give this book a solid 4.5 stars and recommend it happily if you can get past the beginning.
~ Ana Mardoll